Cerro Hoya National Park has a new group of eco-guides called “The Guardians of the Forest.” The group is composed of neighbors from El Cortezo and La Tronosa communities who, with the support of Peace Corps Volunteers, have decided to share part of their knowledge about the flora and fauna of the region.
Cerro Hoya National Park protects more than 33,000 hectares of ocean and land that span from the coast up to 1500 m in elevation. The park forms part of the largest remnant natural forest patch in all of Azuero and also protects the forest with the highest elevation in all the peninsula, Cerro Hoya itself (1478 m in elevation).
One of the biggest attractions of the park is the “carato parakeet,” (Pyrrhura eisenmanni), a species of parakeet that only exists in this national park, and depending on the time of year is easily spotted. In the high elevations of the park you’ll also find “monterillo” trees (Quercus sp.), a type of tree that within Panama can only be found within Cerro Hoya and in the highlands of Chiriquí and Veraguas. In Cerro Hoya’s forests, you can also observe large groups of spider monkeys and other species that due to the deforestation and hunting are now very scarce in other regions of Azuero.
The members of Guardians of the Forest have served for many years as guides in scientific expeditions within Cerro Hoya National Park as well as the La Tronosa Forest Reserve. In 2011, they decided to undertake ecotourism training with the support of the Peace Corps and in this way better organize themselves to serve national and international tourist groups. Depending on the amount of time that you would like to stay in the region, they can plan short day trips in La Tronosa Forest Reserve or multiday trips to summit Cerro Hoya itself. All tours leave El Cortezo community, located 40 minutes from the town of Tonosí.
Groups interested in contacting Guardians of the Forest can leave them a message with their info at the number 6440-9751 or write to the email Abigail.firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in El Pedasieño, the local town newspaper. Click here for a copy of the article.